The sign always decorated our kitchen wall. Everyday it reminded me, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.” Growing up I never paid much attention to it, though it always mocked me when I worried about tomorrow’s spelling test, or reconsidered what I should have said to Johnny yesterday at lunch. In fact, it wasn’t until I was about eleven that I discovered the sign‘s significance.
On a brisk fall afternoon in 2001, I was horseback riding with my mother when she began to feel sharp pains in her chest. It turned out to be a massive heart-attack. And it was caused by stress. Many people live most of their lives in the past or future, creating loads of unnecessary anxiety. It is even said that the minds of our generation stress so much that it causes more health issues than smoking.
So, we, the “mentally-strained,” or “stressed” of our world must learn to better control our thinking, because stress is never caused by social-pressures, work-pressures, or even homework. Feeling stressed is a self-inflicted condition which no one but we the “Mentally Strained” ourselves can cause. Now, we can learn to control our state of mind by many methods. There is formal meditation, informal relaxation, and therapy. However, all of these methods are essentially the same in that they teach “the stressed” how to control their thoughts. Once they learn to do so, their stress dissolves and they can think freely.
Now, learning to control your thoughts and live in the present moment can sometimes cost hundreds of dollars in medical bills or meditation books and tapes, but if you’d like, I can tell you for free. First, if you have made a mistake in the past, you must accept it, learn from it, and then once its moment has passed, forget it. Never dwell on a mistake or event that is impossible to change. Instead, forgive yourself. Move on.
Second, we must never worry about an event that hasn’t occurred yet. Put the worrisome thoughts out of your head, and that is the most difficult task. Some even need a visual for this task. For example, once you are in a relaxed state, close your eyes and picture a large, serene lake. Now, there is a swift waterfall at one end of the lake. All of your relaxed thoughts of the present moment are floating in the lake. Then, the negative thought drifts out of the lake and glides over the waterfall, forever vanished . Third, always live in the present moment. Never be side-tracked or absent-minded, because you might miss out on something amazing.
Today, I can’t even remember what happened to that perceptive sign; it could be lost, thrown away, or in storage. But there is always that chance that it is mocking someone else today, and eventually they too will learn to live in the present moment.